Can You File a Medical Malpractice Claim For Misdiagnosis of Cancer?

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Medical Malpractice Published on February 22, 2023 and updated on February 28, 2023.

lung puzzle with red piecesDiagnosing and treating medical conditions quickly is important for many reasons. The faster a doctor diagnoses a patient the faster treatment can begin. Quick treatment can reduce the amount of time it takes to recover.

However, sometimes a quick diagnosis is a matter of life and death. For example, if you have cancer but doctors do not diagnose it quickly, the disease can spread. If this happens, doctors may be unable to perform surgery to remove the tumor because it may be too big.

As cancer progresses, patients have fewer treatment options. The options that remain could be risky and/or invasive and these treatments may not have much effect on the cancer cells.

Patients who were misdiagnosed may be able to take legal action to recover damages. If a patient died due to misdiagnosis, his or her loved ones may be able to seek compensation on the patient’s behalf.

These are complex cases, which is why you should discuss the situation with a licensed Maryland medical malpractice lawyer.

Free legal consultation with no upfront fees. Call: 410-401-9979.

Types of Cancer Often Misdiagnosed

Doctors could misdiagnose many forms of cancer. However, there are some cancers that are more commonly misdiagnosed than others, such as:

  • Prostate cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Colon/colorectal cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Breast cancer
  • Non-small cell cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Child thyroid cancer
  • Rare cancer types

How do Doctors Misdiagnose Cancer?

There are three ways a disease like cancer could be misdiagnosed. Doctors might fail to diagnose the cancer. In other words, they give the patient a clean bill of health because they failed to notice cancer in its early stages.

Another form of misdiagnosis is diagnosing the patient with the wrong type of cancer. This is incredibly dangerous because the illness the patient has is not being treated.

A third form of misdiagnosis is a false positive. In other words, your doctor diagnoses you as having cancer even though you do not. If treatment begins, it could have life-threatening consequences, considering the fact you do not have cancer.

These forms of medical negligence occur for a variety of reasons. For example, doctors may have failed to take a complete and accurate medical history. Doctors may have failed to document genetic information, such as a family history of a certain form of cancer.

Other reasons misdiagnosis may occur include:

  • Failure to order appropriate tests
  • Failure to take early signs of cancer seriously enough
  • Failure to spend enough time analyzing the patient’s symptoms and medical history
  • Ruling out cancer because of the patient’s age
  • Misinterpreting test results
  • Lab errors that resulted in a false positive or errors that hid cancer
  • Failure to send a patient to a specialist with relevant knowledge and experience
  • Doctors chose to ignore recommendations from the lab for more testing
  • Doctor ordered the wrong tests

Proving a Cancer Misdiagnosis Case

Proving a cancer misdiagnosis case can be a challenge. Your lawyer must establish that a similarly trained doctor would have made the correct diagnosis.

Your attorney will need to consult medical experts to review the diagnostic process and determine where your doctor went wrong. A medical expert will need to explain how the symptoms you reported to the doctor should have been interpreted and what steps should have been taken to learn more about your condition. Medical experts need to show how doctors failed to act within appropriate medical standards.

It is also important to note your lawyer must prove you suffered damages because of misdiagnosis. For example, you may have had to undergo more expensive or risky treatments. These treatments may have come with a risk of severe or debilitating side effects.

Sometimes misdiagnosis of cancer results in death, as the cancer is not caught before it spreads throughout the body. When the patient learns that the cancer is untreatable and is likely to be fatal, he or she can suffer numerous psychological damages, such as:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost companionship
  • Lost enjoyment of life

If the patient passes away, surviving family members may be able to pursue wrongful death damage. These are the financial and emotional damages that result from a loved one’s passing.

Defenses the Other Side May Raise

The defense may say you did not seek treatment quickly enough or you did not do everything your doctor asked, as far as seeking additional treatment or testing. Your lawyer can counter this defense with your medical records by showing what you told your doctor and the treatment you underwent. The goal is to show that you did your part to get treatment.

It is important to be detailed when discussing symptoms of an illness with your doctor, this includes providing relevant family history of an illness. If you omit details and you are misdiagnosed, it may be harder to prove your case.

Were You Misdiagnosed? Call Today

Medical malpractice cases are complicated. If you were misdiagnosed, your lawyer must establish that another doctor with similar qualifications would have made the appropriate diagnosis.

You need experienced legal help to prove these cases. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl have been advocating for medical malpractice victims for decades. We have recovered millions.

Schedule your free legal consultation: 410-401-9979.